John Huizinga dedicated his life to guiding teens through their difficult high school years and being a friend whom they could rely on for lifelong support.
That's how friends and family members remembered Huizinga, 84, a former history teacher and high school guidance counselor at Maine East and Maine South high schools for 31 years, who died Nov. 8 after struggling with Parkinson's disease.
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"All the kids thought he was great," said former student Bruce Roberts of Inverness. "He loved kids. He had quite a sense of humor. I used to come back from college and visit with him."
Roberts said Huizinga introduced him in 1968 to his future wife, Alice, who at the time was a teacher at Maine South High School.
"He's like a big brother to me, and his wife Marilyn's like an older sister," Roberts said. "My wife and I, we've been friends with them for years. We're very close. It's almost like family."
Huizinga also kept in touch with many of his former students and made friends easily wherever he traveled, Roberts said.
"John is just a social animal," he said. "You can go almost any place and he'll run into somebody he knows. He was an exceptional human being and much loved by lots of people."
Huizinga did his practice teaching at Maine East High School in 1954 and remained with Maine Township High School District 207 his entire career. When Maine South opened in 1964, he moved there and became a guidance counselor and helped lead the Parent Teacher Committee. He was recognized with an award when he retired in 1984. Maine South also named a Teacher of the Year Award after him.
"Everybody always wanted him as a counselor," said Huizinga's wife of 57 years, Marilyn of Des Plaines. "He was fun and he was funny. A very good teacher. I know that he always brought home work in cardboard boxes. He was very well liked."
The couple lived in Mount Prospect for 46 years and moved to Des Plaines after Huizinga became ill.
A celebration of life memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Monday, Nov. 19, at the Metropolis Ballroom, 6 S. Vail Ave., Arlington Heights. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Mount Prospect Public Library, 10 S. Emerson St.